Documentaries With Local Ties Join A Nationally Touring Environmental Film Festival

May 28, 2019

The Upper Clark Fork River, home to one of the nation’s biggest Superfund sites, is located in western Montana. But among those telling the story of how citizens forced its cleanup are a dozen students from Point Park University.

The students’ new short documentary, “Superfund: Tailing History,” screens here Saturday – one of three films with local connections being shown as part of the nationally touring Wild & Scenic Film Festival.

The festival, which visits more than 150 cities, features shorts that highlight natural beauty and encourage viewers to protect the environment. “Superfund: Tailing History” began as a project for a photography class with an environmental theme. In spring of 2018, supported by a grant from the Heinz Endowment, students visited Montana, where the Upper Clark Fork had been poisoned by decades of copper mining and processing by Anaconda Copper Company. The documentary runs 17 minutes.

“It’s kind of inspiring, because after so many years they did clean up this river in such a large way, and they’re still advocating river cleanup, and they’re still passionate about keeping the rivers clean,” says student filmmaker Elena Shahen, now a senior studying mass communications.

The two additional locally sourced films include another Point Park student project, “Downstream,” about water quality in Western Pennsylvania, and a short by local activist and filmmaker Kirsi Jansa, about empowering people to become advocates on environmental issues.

Other shorts in the Wild & Scenic festival cover topics including urban fishing, climate change, the world of newts, and a campaign to ban lead paint in the Philippines.

Appropriately enough for all the Point Park content, the festival takes place at the school’s new Pittsburgh Playhouse, Downtown.

The festival’s Pittsburgh stop is co-sponsored by the Pennsylvania Resources Council and Allegheny Cleanways.

More information is here.

WESA is a media sponsor of the Wild & Scenic Film Festival.